If the Dodgers don’t win, let’s root root root for the Athletics, Pirates, Cardinals, Rays, Tigers, Braves or Red Sox, in that order

I’m a pessimist about my teams, so my optimism about the Dodgers has been unusual. When they were in the throes of misery I knew, as I believe I told someone on Facebook, that the season would end well. “Well” might seem to be already accomplished to some of you. Not to me. I want the Dodgers to win the whole thing. I have faith that this ownership team in place now is committed to bringing home the trophy time and time again. But the opportunities to get it can’t be considered a given. And the Dodgers have a great opportunity to get it this year. I would hate to see this opportunity slip away on faith that the team will have a chance some other year.

Watching the Dodgers lose 4-3 yesterday after what I thought were poor decisions by manager Don Mattingly I began bracing myself for the possibility that this team might lose. Bracing myself means beginning to ponder what teams I would favor winning if the Dodgers don’t. So here’s the list. I’m guessing no one else cares, but that has never been a prerequisite for a blog post.

Oakland Athletics

Stylish Oakland Athletics

1. Oakland Athletics
Moneyball was a great book and movie. It got an Oscar nomination. It’s time the concept earned the reward that matters most, a World Championship before the team moves to San Jose.

 

 

 

 

Pittsburgh Pirates

Pittsburgh Pirates calm themselves.

2. Pittsburgh PiratesThis team is a great story, one that every baseball fan knows and we’re all getting pretty sick of discussing. The small-market team suffered losing seasons 20 straight years. They finally broke through this year and have a shot at doing something that might make Pirate fans think all those years of losing were worth it.

 

 

 

 

St. Louis Cardinals

St. Louis Cardinals

3. St. Louis Cardinals
Some of you might think I should have this team as my No. 1, because the Cardinals are my nephew Reggie’s favorite team. But if the Cardinals lose, do you think he would root for the Dodgers? No. At best he would stop caring. I like the Cardinals, how they built their team and how good their fans are, but this team has won it twice already in recent years. It’s family loyalty that got them this high on my list.

 

 

Tampa Bay Rays

Rays

4. Tampa Bay Rays
This is where we get to the part of the list when I stop caring. The Rays play in a crap stadium and have very little fan loyalty, so it’s not as if I care at all about that community winning. I like the team, though, and would be happy for James Loney. He turned me down for an interview once, but he was nice about it.

 

 

 

 

Detroit Tigers

Even this cat can’t get excited about the Detroit Tigers.

5. Detroit Tigers
Somehow I feel like I should want this team to be higher on the list, and if they surpassed the Rays it wouldn’t kill me. I’d be glad for Detroit generally, though I’m not sure there is anyone left in town to enjoy it. Still, I can’t get worked up about them at all. In the American League the Tigers might be the team most like the Dodgers, because they have great pitchers and some solid hitting. Still, meh.

 

 

Atlanta Braves

Atlanta Braves manager Ted Turner

6. Atlanta Braves
This is the part of the list where I get close to rooting against teams. I hate the tomahawk chop, the fact that Ted Turner named the stadium after himself and especially the fact that for years they proclaimed themselves “America’s Team.” If there were a vote across the nation for America’s Team, I’m not sure Atlanta would be in the top half of the most popular picks. I do like the makeup of the team itself and have nothing against the city. And I have good friends who are Braves fans, so I would be happy for them. I hope they don’t unfriend me during the playoffs.

 

Boston Red Sock taking down and elderly Yankee

Boston Red Sock taking down an elderly Yankee

7. Boston Red Sox
There have been times in my life when I loved the Red Sox. They were once my second favorite baseball team. I was thrilled when they finally broke the jinx in 2004 and won it again a few years later. I have had great experiences at Fenway and a real affection for their fans, including another nephew, Mike. But enough is enough. Those fans have gone from suffering to insufferable. I say it’s time for a new losing streak, for the Red Sox and while we’re at it for the Patriots.

Yasiel Puig does not deserve to be in the All-Star game, but I voted for him anyway.

This image was copied without the express written consent of Major League Baseball. Suck it, Selig.

This image was copied without the express written consent of Major League Baseball. Suck it, Selig.

In 1971 I got to see Sandy Koufax pitch. Duke Snider played center field, Pee Wee Reese played shortstop and Gil Hodges played first. It was the first Old-Timers’ Game ever at Dodger Stadium and the four-inning contest meant nothing except to the heart of a 9-year-old boy, me, who took it all in before the real game, in which the Dodgers beat the Mets, 4-3. I still recall the last play. The Mets were threatening. Jerry Grote hit a one-out, bases-loaded line drive to Steve Garvey at third. Garvey caught it and doubled up Ken Singleton at third. Game over.

What I remembered most, though, was I saw Koufax pitch.

I wasn’t old enough to remember seeing Koufax pitch in the real games. I was 4 when he retired. That the game I saw him pitch in didn’t count for anything did not matter much to me then, because the Dodgers provided the best entertainment possible in a display that let people who did remember Koufax reminisce and those of us who didn’t catch some of what we missed. Sports are meant to be won, but when we plunk down money for tickets we’d like to see a show, too.

So I will readily admit that Yasiel Puig does not deserve to be in the All-Star game, but he belongs there. A true All-Star Game should be made up of players who can arguably be called the best in each league and. Puig, because he’s only been in the majors a month, can’t really make that case.

Neither could Willie Mays argue in his final years that he deserved to participate in the All-Star Game. He was there because fans wanted to see him there. Mays belonged there, even if he no longer deserved it.

Jonathan Pabelbon said if Puig gets in it will be an “absolute joke.” Ben Shapiro writes that however tactless Pabelbon was, he was right. Shapiro makes the same argument I would make about Puig not being deserving of the All-Star bid.

But because each team has to have at least one player on the All-Star roster, it’s not like the best 34 players in each league are on the field anyway. It’s the concession Major League Baseball makes to get fans of all 30 teams watching the game. Puig, even if he doesn’t deserve the honor, wouldn’t be the only one on the field who didn’t.

I’m ready to admit that the only reason I think Puig belongs on the All-Star roster is because I want to see him there. I’m a fan. I think that’s enough reason. If Puig gets in, it’s because he’s a wonder. He’s exciting. Watch what happens when he bats. No one looks the other way. When he gets on base look what he does to pitchers. If he gets in it will be a fan voting surge that makes it happen, and it will show that fans want to see him in a game that, despite its World Series home-field advantage factor, is mostly about keeping us interested in baseball at all.

The Major League Baseball All-Star Game is a marketing piece for the league. It’s an exhibition. Make your case that he hasn’t earned his place there yet, but I can’t see leaving out the guy who is the most intriguing player in the league right now.

Ten reasons the St. Louis Cardinals are better than the Los Angeles Dodgers

History, in one measure, will tell you that the St. Louis Cardinals are easily a better team than the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers. The Cards have won 11 World Series titles to the Dodgers’ six. Until 2011 I could have claimed the Dodgers were better than St. Louis since my boys moved to Los Angeles, but this decade the Cardinals evened up that record. Each team has won five titles since 1958.

I’m writing this on the night the Dodgers won their fifth straight game and look like they could be on the verge of turning around what has been an awful season. So bad it has been that five straight wins still leaves the team seven games under .500 and six back in the division.

More World Series titles is one reason the Cardinals are better than the Dodgers. I’ve been dared to come up with 10. Here are nine other reasons, in no particular order.

fallon1. They broke the Red Sox jinx. Cardinal fans won’t like me for this, and in some ways many of us wish the Sox fans would go back to being the lovable whiners they were instead of the insufferable blowhards success made them become. But at the time it was a wonderful moment that changed the ending of a Jimmy Fallon movie I might not otherwise have seen. None of it would have happened had the team that looked like it was going to steamroll its way to another ring not fallen limp before the history the Red Sox were making. In fact, because the Sox made it to the series by staging a miraculous comeback against the Yankees, the World Series was anticlimactic.

2. The 2011 World Series St. Louis Cardinals were probably my favorite non-Dodger single-season team ever. They earned my love in game six. Game one of the 1988 World Series had my favorite single moment ever in a World Series game, and the context behind the Dodgers’ improbable win made that moment and the game even more special. But game six in 2011 between the Cardinals and the Rangers was special from first pitch to last, capped off by a walk-off home run by hometown boy David Freese. They just wouldn’t go away.

3. Personal history. I played baseball for 10 seasons and in four of those I played for the Cardinals.

4. Dizzy and Daffy Dean, two brothers as colorful as their names suggested. “Son, what kind of pitch would you like to miss?” Dizzy Dean asked a hitter. He also was quoted saying, “”It puzzles me how they know what corners are good for filling stations. Just how did they know gas and oil was under there?”

pilots5. In 1982 the Cardinals kept the Milwaukee Brewers from winning the World Series, and I don’t ever want to see the Brewers win the series before the Seattle Mariners do. Before there was a Milwaukee Brewers they were, for one year, the Seattle Pilots. The Pilots were an expansion team with possibly the worst uniforms ever, at least the hats. That the team moved doesn’t seem at all to be Milwaukee’s fault, or even the fault of Bud Selig. Seattle’s owners really had no business even getting a team, because they were fatally optimistic and were far short in the cash necessary to own a Major League Baseball team. But since when are grudges based on facts? I love my new city and it is home to my second favorite baseball team, the Mariners. Once the M’s win a World Series then the Brewers are welcome to win all they want. Until then I demand a curse.

6. The cross and 6 on the mound. This year the groundskeepers at Busch have taken to drawing a number 6 on the mound behind the rubber, as well as a cross. This isn’t an idea I necessarily want to see carried on at other parks, but to me an expression of faith in sports is preferable to some alternatives, especially on a day when a high profile NFL receiver was arrested for murder. And the 6 honors a treasured part of the team’s history, Stan Musial, who died this year.

7. In 1899 the team was known as the St. Louis Perfectos, had a manager/first basemen named Patsy, and a pitcher named Cuppy. Cuppy’s first name was a racial slur. The top player on that team, by the way, was Cy Young. You might have heard of him.

pujols8. The Cardinals let Albert Pujols go and you can argue they got better. According to a story in the Wall Street Journal the team has seen the same production at first base without him that the Los Angeles Angels have with him. The team missed the World Series by one game last year and are tied with Pittsburgh this year for the best record in baseball. Meanwhile the Dodgers loaded up on free agent talent (a move I still think was wise) and got worse. I think the Dodgers’ investment will pay off, but what the Cards did already has.

9. My saying the Cardinals are better than the Dodgers makes me humble, which makes me a better person than any Cardinal fan I’ve ever met. And I constantly strive to be a better person.

A false first

BELMONTMEMEWhen the NCAA Basketball tournament first expanded beyond 64 teams they called the games to get into the first round the “play-in” round. Now they call it the first round.

That means 60 teams get into the second round just by getting named to the tournament. Four do still have to play their way in. It just feels stupid to call the first Thursday and Friday of March Madness anything other than the first round. But no one asked me.

No one who matters, anyway.

I will keep my word and not gloat over the Kings beating the Blues

The Kings are happy and I am, too. But unlike the fans you see in the background I am restrained from making too public a display of my joy over the Kings' 4-0 series win over the St. Louis Blues.

I am man of my word.

For as long as I’ve been aware that Los Angeles had a hockey team I’ve rooted for that team. They’re not like the Dodgers to me. It’s not that co-dependent. Still, I root for the Kings. I regularly check the standings to see how they are doing, at least once a month. Then I ask my coworkers how they’re doing and what their chances are in the playoffs. I have coworker who loves the Vancouver Canucks. He goes to see them on occasion.

The Kings, on the other hand, have never been seen by me, except on television. No NHL team has been seen by me. There were those minor league hockey glory days I caught in Salt Lake City, but that’s it.

So now the Kings have defeated both the Canucks and the St. Louis Blues, the favorite team of all teams for my nephew. For him I committed to not gloat. So I won’t brag that the Kings have now defeated the Western Conference No. 1 and No. 2 seeds in order and are about to face the No. 3 seed, assuming the Phoenix Coyotes continue their dominance of the Nashville Predators. I will not boast that the Kings are 8-1 in the playoffs this year, that they likely have the best goalkeeper in the game.

I don't watch hockey a lot, but the guy in the white shirt was supposed to keep that little black thing out of there. Now he has to go home.

I am too much a man of my word to do any of that. For sure I don’t want my nephew to feel any worse about the fact that his team totally sucked against mine, which in all fairness to both of us should have been the other way around. I’m so casual about hockey that most years I can’t tell you who won the cup even if it happened the day before. The Kings are my team, sure. I’m not necessarily a fair-weather fan, because I root for them even when they are bad, which is pretty much the case every year except two that the team has existed. I remember when four out of five teams from a division would make the playoffs and usually it was the Kings who got left out. I still rooted for the Kings. I just couldn’t always be counted on to pay attention.

Reggie, on the other hand, lives for the Blues. He sports a Blues tattoo. I’d consider a permanent Dodger ink spot, but putting the Kings on my back would probably start more conversations than I’d be willing to have.

So for Reggie, I won’t celebrate publicly my excitement over the post-season success of the 2012 Los Angeles Kings, who could very well be the best team in hockey, who might kick royal butt on the Yotes and then some collection of chumps from the Eastern Conference to bring to Los Angeles the Stanley Cup for the first time (The Disney Ducks don’t count.) until Sunday afternoon. (There is a timer over in the right column to remind me when time’s up.)

Reggie asked for a week before I celebrate in front of him. I promised I would wait, so on my honor I declare that I will.

BYU vs. USU live blog

Hey folks, all of this could be moot if work interrupts, but here’s the plan. I’m going to live blog during the BYU-USU game. I hope I can watch it. Even if I can’t, you can and post your comments here. Or, you can ignore the game itself and just watch what could be a fun live blogging event. The game starts at 6 p.m. Friday in Utah, which means 5 p.m. for those of us on the Coast. I’ve got a bet with an Aggie. If BYU loses I have to put up some USU icon for my avatar on Facebook.

Feel free to join me tomorrow. Even if I have moments where I can’t watch the game, I will most likely get the live blog started and let you guys log in and talk smack or express how little you care. There should be something to appeal to everyone’s self-righteousness, and what would a game involving two Utah teams be without that?

It should be fun!

How many Andersons can there be?

Andersons, Andersons. I know I have heard that name somewhere before.

During Saturday’s Utah-BYU game from Provo one of the announcers, it doesn’t matter who, made reference to Dres Anderson, one of Utah’s many talented players. He’s a receiver.

The announcer, though, revealed something else.

“If that name rings a bell,” he said, he’s the son of Flipper Anderson, who used to play for the Rams.

“Oh,” I thought to myself, “That’s where I’ve heard that name before.” I mean there just are not that many Andersons, are there? I heard his name and thought of calling Bill Anderson, the one Anderson I know. He goes to my church.

Wait, then there’s Adam, another Anderson I know who goes to my church.

Then I thought of Brian Anderson, a friend of ours who ran a half-marathon in Tacoma with Diana. Oh, and he goes to my church.

I know another Brian Anderson. (It might be Bryan.) He sings opera in Portland, I think.

I once worked for Julia Anderson.

Then there was Mort Anderson, who kicked in the NFL. A John Anderson ran for president. A different Jon Anderson sings for Yes, or used to sing for Yes until he got replaced by some lead singer from a Canadian Yes tribute band.

But that’s it. That’s all.

Unless you count Pamela Anderson, Anderson Cooper, Loni Anderson, Arthur Anderson, Brady Anderson, Gillian Anderson, Richard Dean Anderson, Kenny Anderson, Harry Anderson, Louie Anderson, Ian Anderson, and “Famous” Dave Anderson.

Growing up I knew Anna Anderson and her husband, whose first name I forget, but whose last name was also Anderson. They went to my church.

Other than that, though, there just are not that many, so I should have known right away Dres was related to Flipper.

It’s time for Dodger baseball in Seattle!!!

For the first time since 1998, more importantly the first time since I moved to Washington, your Los Angeles Dodgers will play a series in Seattle.

I’ve been waiting for this since Nov. 10, 2000, the day I backed the Ryder rental truck up to the front door in Camas, Washington and unloaded a bed and everything else we owned that would fit. Even more so since Sept. 21, 2002, when we moved to a place that would allow me to see a Major League Baseball game by hopping on a boat and then walking a mile or so.

The Mariners have played in Los Angeles a few times since I lived here. It makes some sense, because the Mariners always have a series against their natural rivals, the San Diego Padres. (People in Seattle apparently hate San Diego. And why not? What with their sunshine and warmer water and San Diego’s thieving of our killer whales. San Diegans hate us because of how close we are to Canada, and nothing bothers a San Diegan more than someone who puts too much emphasis on the “go” in San Diego.)

Because they’re going to San Diego anyway, they might as well stop by for a drubbing in Los Angeles. It’s certainly a more efficient road trip and we know how much professional sports franchises are suffering financially.

I instantly responded to the news, released this morning, by inviting my brothers to Seattle for the wrong dates. If they only pay attention to my first text they’ll be here a month early. They’re welcome to come up and all, but I can’t promise any Dodger sightings in May. Anyone else who wants to make the road trip is welcome to come. Look for me at Safeco. I’ll be the guy wearing Dodger gear sitting with the two old guys.

Football is back and so is the podcast

The sun glowed brightly even as it was near setting on a September evening in Covina in September of 1979. I was in the clear and the ball was on my way, a moment when so much was on the line.

So much more has been on the line since, and that moment in the sunshine at the Covina District Field has lifted me time and again.

Anytime I watch a football game and see a receiver in the clear, I remember that day. It meant so much then. It means even more today.

The Narrative Arts Podcast returns with a story to lay down some context as we prepare to watch high school and college football this weekend and the NFL next week. And it gives me an excuse to tell another story.

Dodger bidder begins effort to acquire team

When The Narrative Arts reaches a point in which it’s close to being worth about $2 billion, I will personally begin the effort to acquire the Los Angeles Dodgers. I thought it fair that my earlier listeners/readers/gawkers should know this. I’m all about full disclosure.

The asking price will not be near that $2 billion figure, but I am guessing the asking price will be high enough that I need enough of a cushion to account for my vanity. That is, after all, the whole point of owning the Dodgers, to respond to my vanity and to guarantee me great seats at each game and access to the clubhouse, where I can pat bare behinds or rant like a spoiled Major League Baseball team owner.

To be clear, this is not a business decision. All of my business decisions will be designed to ensure that I can afford the Dodgers. According to Malcolm Gladwell, that’s the way it should be.

Fans should know what’s in store for them when I take over the team from the McCourts or some other interim owner.

My team and I go over plans for Dodgerville, a theme park that used to be part of the parking lot.

First, don’t expect changes to Dodger Stadium, except for the major ones. I won’t change the stadium itself all that much, because it is one of the few symmetrical stadiums left, those having become passe in favor of artificially odd ballpark configurations. The baby blue will continue to be the predominant stadium color, the hot dogs will still be grilled and I won’t put seats on top of the pavilion roofs.

There will be major changes to the parking lot, as in most of the lot will be sold off. There will be a West Coast Baseball Hall of Fame on part of the land sold off, a Dodger Museum and some restaurants where people can gawk from outside at celebrities dining inside. Proceeds, some of them anyway, will go to descendants of the former residents of Chavez Ravine, and I’m not talking about Steve Garvey, Sax, Yeagar or Howe.

In return we’ll get more shuttles and maybe even trains running to the stadium, so your cars can be vandalized at home or at some mall parking lot rather than in our expanse of pavement. People who insist on driving will pay big time, the money from which will be set aside specifically for squandering on free agents.

I’ll get a television contract that broadcasts the games everywhere, including on the Jumbotron during Lakers, Clippers and Kings games, because I suspect when I own the team watching a game on the big screen at a basketball or hockey game will be a consolation prize for not being able to make it out to the ballpark.

In fact, I think at least one night a year we should host an outdoor Lakers’ game.

Finally, we’ll have fireworks after every night game, because man I love those things.

Unfortunately I can’t promise that when I get my $2 billion that I’ll be the team buyer. First I have to run this idea by the wife.